The flagship initiatives that NASA is undertaking promise to be some of the most exciting and innovative projects the Agency has developed. They have the ability to radically change the way we do things-from involving the public in software development to having student-designed payloads on missions to Pluto and beyond. These initiatives are not easy to implement. They go against the grain of how government traditionally operates, yet the challenges faced while implementing them give us valuable information on how to improve our internal processes and methodologies as we work towards changing the way we operate.
Improve the Quality, Iimpact ,and Reuse of NASA Software through Open Source Development
Open source development-which allows free access to software source code to allow anyone to make improvements-is revolutionizing the way software is created, improved, and used. The open source software movement is inherently transparent, participatory, and collaborative. Open source at NASA gives the public direct and ongoing access to NASA technology. Its adoption by NASA also helps lower the barrier to entry into space by enabling private industry to better make use of NASA investments. Although open source release has already provided numerous benefits to NASA and the public, the full benefits of open source can only be achieved when we establish the processes, policies, and corporate culture to favor open source development. This would shift our open source activities from its one-way direction of giving the public access to finalized software products, to allowing two-way collaboration as part of the development process. The benefits of allowing the public to assist in development of NASA software include increased software quality, accelerated software development, and a higher rate of technology transfer both to and from NASA.
Cloud Computing for a Universe of Data
Nebula is an open-source cloud computing pilot project that was developed to provide an easily quantifiable and improved alternative to building additional expensive data centers and to provide an easier way for NASA scientists and researchers to share large, complex data sets with external partners and the public. Nebula is currently an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) implementation that provides scalable compute and storage for science data and Web-based applications. Nebula IaaS allows customers to unilaterally provision, manage, and decommission computing capabilities (virtual machine instances, storage, etc.) on an as-needed basis through a Web interface or a set of command-line tools. Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), scheduled for release in Q4 2010, will provide a consistent set of frameworks, code repositories, and Web services to enable NASA developers to deploy secure, policy-compliant Web applications that automatically scale to meet variable demand.Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) are planned for 2011.
Public Participation in Aeronautics Research and Space Exploration
"Participatory exploration" is the active involvement of individuals as contributors to and collaborators in NASA's research, science, and exploration activities. Participatory Exploration embodies far more than simply exposing people to or educating them about NASA's discoveries and exploration activities. It encourages individuals to contribute their creativity and capabilities to NASA's mission of discovery and invites them to share in the excitement of building our future. The FY 2011 President's budget proposes that NASA will create a Participatory Exploration Office to support research on new technologies to increase public participation, coordinate NASA-wide efforts to incorporate new participatory exploration approaches into future work, and act as a clearinghouse for identifying and communicating best practices both internally to NASA and externally to our communities.